Cider Week NYC may be held in the fall, but this year its organizers are hoping to showcase the ways the locally produced alcoholic beverage can be enjoyed year round.
“It’s traditional in other parts of the world to enjoy cider with things other than a chilly fall day, a woolly sweater and a pork chop,” Jennifer Smith, executive director of the New York Cider Association, said in an interview.
This year’s event kicks off Friday and is full of events at varying price points that highlight the versatility and variety of hard cider. There will be a block party meant to remind you of farm to plated dinners as well as food tastings to show off how cider can pair with a meal just as well as wine or beer can.
It will also feature the debut of some local ciders, including Big Apple Hard Cider.
“We’re just launching commercially at Cider Week this year, so it’s a really big year for us,” cider master Danielle von Scheiner said.
Von Scheiner is hoping to highlight the way New Yorkers drink cider — more like a wine, as opposed to West Coasters who drink it more like a beer. Big Apple’s ciders, including one dubbed Brooklyn Brew, use 100% New York apples fermented with 100% juice and with no added sugar — and thanks to that, “there’s really no hangover.”
“It allows people to kind of get into a drink that is gluten-free, paleo and it supports a local economy,” she said.
It will also be the first year at Cider Week NYC for Brooklyn Cider House, which has an orchard in New Paltz and is in the process of building a tasting room, production facility and restaurant in East Williamsburg that will serve as a “flagship location.”
Brooklyn Cider House will be pairing its cider with pork at Porktober Fest on Saturday at Solar One ($55 a ticket), and will be pouring samples at the free Lower East Cider festival on the appropriately named Orchard Street Sunday.
The Lower East Cider Festival is among the more rustic events this week, said Lindsey Storm, whose business card lists her as the “cider goddess” at Brooklyn Cider House.
“It’s kind of the closest thing to the afternoon at the farm that you can get here in New York City,” she said.
For those looking to experience cider in a different way, this year features the inaugural Cider Revival ($55-$65) on Monday, a more high-end tasting of more than 25 ciders paired with fondue and other snacks from Murray’s Cheese Bar, held on the terrace at the Bowery Hotel. Both Brooklyn Cider House and Big Apple Hard Cider are among the cider makers who will be on hand to pair their cider with savory snacks.
“Cider doesn’t have to be this stand-alone beverage that you have once in a while in the afternoon,” Storm said. “It can stand up against food the same way as wine.”
Cider pairs especially well with spicy foods thanks to its low alcohol content, Smith said, and while people often think of it as sweet, many varieties offer the dry, mineral-focused flavors of white wines that complement foods like oysters.
“The true wine geeks consider themselves acid hounds, that’s their phrase that’s used, and apples — nobody can beat apples for bringing that kind of sensory experience to the finished product,” she said.
But of course, despite the varieties that make cider a beverage diners can drink year round, there’s something alluring about it this time of year, especially in New York — the second biggest producer of apples in the country.
“People often have, particularly people in the northeast, have a personal connection to apple-growing and orchards. A lot of people, whether growing up or now that they have their own kids, spend time in the fall apple picking,” Smith said. “It’s this wonderful fruit that we kind of take for granted and it has this wonderful second life when it’s fermented.”